Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Myths about Postpartum Weight Loss

So, I love the Today Show. It's no secret that I love it. If you ask my family what I am usually doing around 7:00AM, they would unanimously say "Watching the Today Show!" My friends are probably sick of me starting sentences with "I saw _______________ on the Today Show..." However, my favorite show did me wrong the other day. Really wrong. I watched this segment about how celebrities aren't like us when it comes to taking off the baby weight. DUH. Consider this my "letter to the editor" if you will. Here were my problems with this study:

- The study included candidates who were overweight before they got pregnant. During the interview the expert communicates that most of the individuals in this study were overweight.
- The report stated women should gain 18-25 pounds during pregnancy. That is the recommendations for OVERWEIGHT women. Women with an average BMI gain an average of 25-35 pounds. So, when they say 50%of women had an extra ten pounds and 25% had an extra 20 pounds to lose, they're referring to a study done with predominantly overweight women. They only mentioned that once, leading me to believe all their statistics and studies included people like me, who had a VERY healthy lifestyle and average BMI.
- The report stated that women burn 280-500 calories EVERY TIME they nurse. Not true. Simply not true.
- At 2:05 in the video, the "expert" says we shouldn't base our feelings on celebrity weight loss but we can use it as motivation. The live interview expert had a very uncomfortable disapproving face when the camera panned to her because NO, celebrity's baby weight loss is not motivational. 

Decided to break up my rant with a little HenJo action. He's working on his tripod form. I give this a 10!

So, I did my own research. It took about ten minutes. Hello, Today Show, expert researcher and new mom for hire! (Note I did more than ten minutes of research but this was the best article I found.) I found a Q&A on WebMd with Elizabeth Ward MS RD. She seems legit. The Q&A featured some of my burning questions, so here are a few myths to bust:

1. Nursing will help you lose weight. Yes, nursing burns calories (280-500 a DAY, not per feed), but with those burned calories comes increased hunger. Just as with an active lifestyle, food should be fuel while nursing. Ward even states that you can gain weight while breastfeeding! The reason is because, although you could burn some calories and fat, your body protects some stores of fat for breastfeeding.

2. Counting calories will help you lose the baby weight. If you're not breastfeeding, go for it. Ward does not recommend doing that for breastfeeding moms. The energy it takes to breastfeed means limiting calories could zap you of even more energy. Fun fact: she states that the quality of milk is determined by the quality of your diet, the quantity is dependent on how often you nurse. (Note: some women simply have low milk supply, plain and simple.)

3. You will lose the baby weight in a year. Ward cautions that many breastfeeding moms do not lose the weight until they are finished breastfeeding. So, depending on how long you plan on nursing, keep this in mind. I hope to nurse Henry until one year (When he will hopefully transition to milk pending his allergy), so this helped me have a more realistic outlook on things.

Year. Made. And thanks Vaseline for following me...

Finally, to my lovely Savannah. She is simply the cutest. I loved watching her adorable prego self every morning, and I'm glad she's back! She was absolutely right when she said "I don't know how I feel about this study." After the expert stated gaining 18-25 pounds was average, she made a comment I would have made concerning putting on weight during pregnancy: 

"A lot of the advice you get is to start (being active/healthy) during your pregnancy so you don't put on so much weight, which by the way is really hard to do from someone who put on 42 pounds." 

You could just insert "38 pounds" and that would be something I would say. You see, I was active during my pregnancy, I was eating healthily, I am still active now and I am still eating healthily. Just as my feelings were about the onslaught of tips to avoid holiday weight gain, I think we need to back the heck off with the obsession with losing baby weight. It does no good for a mom's self esteem, whether you're a nationally televised news anchor or a stay at home mom. We all see the pictures, we know some people miraculously lose the weight, but we need to take a step back and be concerned with our own world, not the world around us. If I had known this information before I had my baby, I think I would have been handling my (What I have considered to be slow) progress better.

The takeaway from this is that everyone and everybody is different. Some women are going to lose their baby weight quickly, while others, like myself, will have weight stall after weight stall after weight stall. The important thing is putting healthy nourishment into your body, exerting a healthy amount of physical activity, and doing everything possible to raise this beautiful baby you've been blessed with. It took me a long time to get to this place, and I have my moments of "UGH I just want to fit into ALL my clothes again!" But Henry is the greatest thing I have ever done, and he's worth all the effort to get myself back into my best running shape.

How about you? Have you ever seen a television segment that irked you? Have you ever written a letter to an editor? Any myths you would like to bust? Tell me about it!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

5 Gifts to Give Yourself

I am not the queen of gift guides. In fact, I love reading them! Ashley  and Jess posted some awesome gift guides for runners. I *think* I'm done shopping, and now there are nine days till Christmas, where we will be traveling (driving) a ton and visiting with family and friends. I decided to go for a quick run yesterday, cut even shorter by holiday traffic! My eight minute drive to the park took almost twenty minutes, go figure. I hadn't been to the park in a long time, and the weather was so perfect that I had to take advantage. While on my run, I started thinking about how things have been a  bit hectic lately, how I have been checking things off of my to do list, and I really haven't enjoyed the season as I usually do. So, I want to consciously enjoy the rest of 2014 in small simple ways. Here are 5 gifts I will give to myself to wrap up 2014:

1. Make time for friends. This is THE busiest time of year, but this is a great time to meet up with people and celebrate this past year, or to leave it behind! Parties don't always promote meaningful conversations (Though they are FUN), so I'm trying to have little dates with friends. I find it so easy to not go out, especially since it's cold. Henry, get ready to be bundled up in your bear suit! We're going to get together with some friends! 

Our Slafters were in town from the West Coast, SO glad we got to spend time together!

2. Do yoga. Take it or leave it, but yoga really does help you quiet down. Beautiful Belly Mommy and Me yoga helps me connect with Henry, but we haven't been doing it lately. I plan on trying to work this into our days as much as possible.

Bringing the Happy Baby Pose to a whole new level. SLIGHTLY jealous of his flexibility...Also: ROLLS.

3. Take the eating pressure off. If I see one more "Here's how to avoid gaining weight" segment on the Today Show I may scream! WE KNOW WE ARE EATING UNHEALTHY FOOD. WE KNOW HOW TO WORK OUT. IT'S OKAY TO INDULGE. Phew, glad I got that off my chest! "Everything in moderation" applies to eating AND exercise. Obviously there is a fine line between "I deserve a dozen cookies" and "I'm going to enjoy some cookies", but seriously? Let's all take a chill pill and relish our treats that come around once a year.

I was craving salad like whoa. Make no mistake, this salad was calorie loaded! Cookie with my coffee month probably made me crave veggies ;-)

4. Be present at events. Of course I will be taking pictures with my phone HELLO HENRY'S FIRST CHRISTMAS. However, I won't be scrolling through Insta or Facebook while enjoying family festivities. It's so easy to, but I really enjoyed putting my phone away during Thanksgiving. We took a few pictures and that was it. I had a great time with my family and I plan to replicate that for Christmas. There's nothing wrong with Latergrams!

My sweet baby with my sweet Grammy at Thanksgiving.

5. Run/walk somewhere festive. The lights of NYC have always been a calming force, and I really enjoy them at night! With Henry it's a bit more challenging to get into the city at night, but there are plenty of places around us to enjoy the sights and lights of the season. 

Astoria Park had a pretty tree!

Practicing our sitting up skills with two forms of motivation: Lambeau Puppy and the Christmas tree!

How about you? What gifts will you give to yourself this season? Do you ever go phone free? Yoga, yay or nay? TELL ME ABOUT IT!

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Challenge of Working home.

Motivation to workout can come from different sources. A goal, a workout buddy, an event or simply the feeling of working out can be the motivation for people to break a sweat. I have never had a problem working out at home. In fact, I haven't belonged to a gym in over two years. In my rose colored thoughts, I thought that I would EASILY get my workouts in when I became a stay at home mom. Not so much. We had some good running moments, some good workout moments, then a couple of twinges (tendinitis in my wrist, a broken pinky toe, which resulted in joint damage/soreness in my pinky toe) put a wrench in my forward motion. I find myself facing some hurdles on my way to breaking a sweat in my living room.

One hurdle is my environment. Are there dishes in the sink? Did I send in my article? It's still dark out and I'm sleeeeeeepy. These are just a few things that have deterred me from working out. I have an open invitation from Brian to run when he gets home from work, but by 6pm I'm SPENT. I can also be found putting dinner together at this time, Henry is often in his witching hour after six, so overall I just want to sit for a minute and breath. I'm struggling to find the motivation to lace up and go in the pitch black. 

Meal prepping. Left chicken is soy free, middle chicken is soy full, broccoli is SAFE!

Another hurdle is the season. Christmas is my favorite, and I'm still trying to wrap up my shopping! When I have a spare moment, you can often find me browsing gift guides online, checking store stocks and ordering from Amazon Prime. Curling up and watching a movie with Mr. Miller sounds a lot better than running outside. Between that, Christmas cards, and baking (Which I have done the smallest amount of EVER), I find myself wanting to do something festive versus doing high knees and burpees. 

Henry loves the tree. And the Packers.

My last hurdle is my body. Imagine that: my body isn't how I want it to be, so I don't want to workout?! How backwards thinking is that? Usually it would put a fire under my rear to get myself moving, but I have been finding myself lulled into inactivity. I think this is because it is overwhelming to think of the extra effort I usually have to put in to lose a few pounds, and it seems one hundred times worse postpartum. Did I mention we're taking a beach vacation in mid January? So yea, I should be motivated. Le sigh.

So, how can I overcome these hurdles? I have been taking baby steps. I have been doing T25 three times a week. I realize that I need to get this done first thing in the morning, or my motivation is shot. "I'll do it later" is like a death sentence for my workouts. Because of my tendinitis, I have to be careful how much floor action I am doing, so I am hoping to push it to five times a week soon. I also started a "12 Days of Christmas" challenge with some girlfriends. It's fun and requires no equipment! 

The 12 Days of Fitness Exercise Routine...LOVE these challenges for the month of December. Why wait until the New Year???

I've also been finding inspiration from YouTube. My friend Emily is a fantastic trainer in Buffalo, New York. She posted a couple of 15 minute workouts which I loved! These workouts work the largest muscle groups providing maximum results. I added a bit of difficulty for an added challenge. I added 20 kettlebell swings and held a kettlebell for a single leg lunge.

Emily Long does a bulgarian split squat at her gym TREO Sports & Fitness in West Seneca Wednesday, December 3, 2014.  (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)
Isn't she fab?! She has been a great source of inspiration to me!

Finally, I'm committing to being committed. This sounds simple, but my blase attitude has gone on long enough. I am motivated to put in the work. I want to reconnect with my love of (winter) running. I want to look at working out as a get to not a have to. I am going to add in some yoga for all its benefits; I always feel more at ease and ready for life when I do it!

How about you? Are you facing a holiday workout slump? Do you workout exclusively at home? What;s the best gift you've purchased? TELL ME ABOUT IT!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Henry: 6 Months

Happy Christmas month! It's the most wonderful time of the year! Though I feel like December is flying by at warp speed, we're trying to enjoy the sights and sounds of the season. This month we're celebrating our sixth wedding anniversary AND our six month old boy!!! Here's the scoop on this handsome little fella:

This onsie was purchased last January because of our Christmas card last year....

Last year's Christmas card! Henry was definitely worth the wait, and came at his estimated delivery!

  • Henry weighed 16.8 pounds at his last appointment, but tomorrow's appointment will be edited in.
  • He consistently rolls belly to back, but he gets stuck on his elbow from back to belly! Soon, oh so very soon...eek.
  • He laughs all the time. It's the best thing ever. I never want it to end.
  • Henry and Lambeau are now best friends. Like REALLY best friends. Daily Lambeau licks him, checks on him and allows him to touch him. Henry is pretty gentle for a six month old. He pulled a little too firmly on his hair today, and Lambeau just whined and looked to us for help. This is a complete 180 for our puppy who wanted nothing to do with him. 
  • Henry's sleep continues to be a roller coaster. He sleeps through the night (8pm-5/6am). Somehow he has gained a habit of waking at 4am and requires his pacifier. His naps still are no where near consistent but are getting better. He generally takes his longest nap first, between 1 1/2-2 hours long, then 45-60 minute naps late morning and afternoon.
  • We're beginning with solids. So far he doesn't like much of anything (Besides oatmeal and rice cereal), so we'll see where this journey takes us this month! Especially with holiday travel.
  • He has started squeaking (I call it squawking), and making really long sounds from his throat. He is noisy noisy noisy and I love it.
  • Henry is the happiest baby on the block. And I mean that. He met multiple people for the first time this weekend and smiled the whole time, not one fuss. He is such a lovey dovey guy. The dry cleaner, people at the grocery store, our mailman, everyone gets a smile out of him. 
  • He loves staring at our Christmas tree first thing in the morning. After he nurses we spend about ten minutes staring at it. He's so content and it melts my heart.
  • Henry is now front facing in his BOB stroller! It is so light I can't believe it. Car seat pushing is for the birds!

This Christmas is extra special. We look forward to creating new traditions and adding him to our existing ones. We're visiting both sides of our family, so we're excited to celebrate with those we love. I can't believe what a personality this guy is developing, and how much I enjoy spending time with him. I thank God everyday for the privilege to be his mom. 

Happy Six Months Little Lion Man!
Ladies, watch out for the bottom right!!!

Feel free to check out my posts on the Smart Mom blog!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dairy and Soy Free Thanksgiving!

My favorite holiday is coming. Now, I'm a Christmas NUT. Seriously. Watching the Rockefeller tree lighting is like a religion to me. But there is something special about Thanksgiving. Things like running my beloved  Manchester Road Race, eating delicious food, and spending time with family around desserts and coffee (mmmmm pie) make it a fantastic day. The best part is that it kicks off Christmas for me. I try SO hard to not listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, so Thanksgiving also kicks off my favorite music season as well!

I seriously love all Charlie Brown holiday movies. Source

This year's Thanksgiving comes with some challenges. Since I am dairy and soy free for Henry, several Thanksgiving favorites are completely off limits for me. I did some research and found some great substitutes! Here are some recipes that will I will be making this Thanksgiving:

Coconut oil pie crust. My mom has always made her own pie crust, but the shortening in it most likely has soy. I will be making my own version in little mini pans! Surprisingly, blueberry and cherry pie filling from the can are soy free! I can also have apple pie, which my mom has frozen apples from the orchard ready to be baked.
Coconut Oil Pie Crust

Basic Vegan Stuffing. I'm excited to try this one out, since I L-O-V-E stuffing! Smart Balance Better Butter is dairy AND soy free, so I will be using that here. Also, I was told by Kim that Trader Joe's vegetable broth is soy free, so I will be picking this up to use in it.

Italian Salad Dressing. Seriously, there are no soy free dressings in my life. I have been lazy and using EVOO and red wine vinegar daily. I'm excited to try out this dressing. Does anyone remember those packets? You had oil and vinegar in that glass dressing bottle? That was the best. I hope this tastes similar!!!

Now, here are a few things that are A-O-KAY for me to have on Thanksgiving:
- Mashed Potatoes (With almond milk and Smart Balance butter)
- Turkey (We will be having a butter soaked over cooked one as well as a fried one so I will be able to try the fried one. I'm nervous. We've never done it!)
- Butternut Squash
- Jello mold (It's amazing: apples, walnuts, cranberries, mmmm)
- Bacon brussel sprouts. This will be my contribution!!!

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

How about you? What are your go to Thanksgiving favorites? Do you have any unique food dishes with your family? WHO IS RUNNING A TURKEY TROT?! Tell me about it!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lots of thoughts about weight loss

As I said to a friend recently: ish is hard. There are several things that make it hard. These factors  aren't exclusive to postpartum moms, but to everyone in a weight loss journey. I've been chewing on some thoughts about this recently, about why this process can be so arduous. Here's what I have come up with.

The Challenges of Weight Loss

The highs and lows. Oh. My. Gosh. THE SCALE MOVED! I'm definitely not married to the scale, but seeing a different number definitely feels like concrete proof that what I have been doing is working. This is a high, an inspiration to keep going. However, in my journey, I have continually followed high highs with lows. I'll feel fantastic, get my workouts in, eat a great balance of proteins and vegetables, and saw results. Then I don't. For a while. Which leads to the next challenge....

I had SO much fun at this Nike event! I haven't done a real workout since. 

Weight loss stall. Oh man, if this could be avoided, EVERYONE would nail their weight loss goals! I honestly have lost five pounds following my initial "baby came out" weight loss. Five pounds in five months. I've revolutionized my eating habits for my son, I don't eat anything processed (Is Cinnamon life processed? Well, if it is, then I eat that.), and I have been fairly active. Although I do have my fair share of wine (Hello Friday night viewing of Scandal, got to assimilate with Olivia to really get into it), my diet is healthy. I wish my activity was increased, which leads to my next challenge....

Henry be like "Weight loss stall? Not for me!" Babies are applauded for eating and gaining weight. They live the dream.

Exercise stall. You've probably been there during a comeback: You're on a fantastic streak, your push-ups are up to ten in a row, and you're finally excited about your daily sweat session. I was on SUCH a streak: getting in plyo, feeling stronger, and going on some short runs. Despite breaking my pinky toe the first day I ran a mile (I stubbed it that night...because, why not?!), I was feeling great. Until I suddenly didn't. I have worked through some pretty painful tendinitis in my wrist, keeping me from any and all upper body exercise. Then my foot with the pinky toe started hurting. I'm on my third week of rest for that and I have seen zero improvement, hence my appointment today to get it checked out. I didn't even bring my running sneakers to Connecticut this weekend. Who am I?
We ran a mile two weeks ago. Hokas made it pain free, but I can't ignore the discomfort I feel when walking barefoot. 

Social media. Now, you can take it or leave it. I'm usually not that crazy about social media comparisons etc, but when you're in the middle of a struggle, it can cause you to struggle even more. Dorothy candidly wrote about it here, and I have to agree. You can be having a day where you are teetering on discouragement, and suddenly someone posts a picture that causes self doubt in you. I wrote here about my stomach hiding Instagram faux pas: I'm not trying to hide my weight. Do I dress so that I'm not spilling out of my pants? Absolutely. I try to post real life Instagram photos without being negative (Because if I want to post negative crap, I can go on Facebook like the rest of the world). It's hard to see people at their best when you are not even close to your best. This is the antithesis of helpful:

There was a great dialogue about this tweet. I don't hate on thin ladies, they have their body and I have mine. I don't think this is inspirational compared to a strong everyday athlete who isn't paid to be in pictures. Related: I'm pretty sure sports bras are not allowed on golf courses per dress codes.... #reallife

So, how do you break through these challenges? That's what I'm navigating currently. Here is what has helped so far:

1. Manage expectations. I am slowly moving from "I need to lose the weight" to "Today I will do everything in my power to be healthy". THOSE actions and results are within my control.

2. Change up exercise and eating habits. Although I have definitely done the eating thing, I will continue to see what works. Instead of eating a few a couple of bites of coconut ice cream each night, I reserve the treat for one or two nights a week. Pending my foot status I will be building up my workouts again (Changing it up from none to some!)

3. Clean up social media. I stopped following some people that were bugging me. We all have people that bother us. It's okay to unfollow. If it's adding annoyance to your day, click the unfollow button and move on! It's actually very freeing. 

How about you? Have you ever struggled with weight loss? What do you do to bounce back after setbacks? Are you jealous of baby's lives of luxury? Hahaha TELL ME ABOUT IT!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dairy and Soy Elimination Diet: Part II

Here's the latest and greatest from the land free of soy and dairy:

We got a Costco membership! We usually tag along with friends to Costco, but when Living Social had a deal we snatched it up. Costco has really good produce prices, so we stocked up this weekend. Although a ton of the things I love to get at Costco contain soy or dairy (my favorite veggie burgers, garlic brown rice/quinoa packs, ANNIE'S MAC AND CHEESE etc), we were able to find some great items to add to our pantry and produce selections. Here are some ideas for what to make if you are living soy and dairy free!

 T-B, L-R: French Bread with veggie eggs and avocado. Slow cooker BBQ pulled pork with vinegar slaw. Taco Salad with ground turkey (Still looking for a taco seasoning without soy! Will need to make my own!) Slow cooker cilantro pulled pork with lime rice.
 T-B, L-R: Pumpkin Oatmeal. Grilled pork tenderloin (we marinated it in EVOO, salt and pepper) and brussel sprouts with roasted butternut squash. Veggie egg sandwich on sourdough with homemade sweet potato hash (Roasted with EVOO and Mrs. Dash Garlic and herb seasoning) Reused pork for a honey mustard pork sandwich with roasted asparagus and a bake sweet potato.

Remember how I said there were several names for soy? Well, I thought I was being vigilant, but Henry would have good days and bad days with his spitting up. I kept wracking my brain thinking "WHAT DID I EAT THAT COULD HAVE HAD SOY OR DAIRY?!" Well, remember that coconut ice cream that I loved? Turns out it has guar gum in it, which could be derived from soy. Not only did that have guar gum,but so did the honey mustard I had been making salad dressing! I felt horrible. The second I stopped eating those two items, his spitting up became minimal. You live, you learn, you eliminate. Thankfully Coconut Bliss coconut ice cream seems to be okay on Henry's stomach, so I will continue to cherish that treat once in a while. 

I have slowly been eating out. I didn't eat out (Except Chipotle, who has EXCELLENT ingredients lists and allergen resources on their website!) because I was scared to cross contaminate. Now, I'm getting bolder. I used to work in the restaurant industry, and I know how seriously I had to take someone's allergy order...I just didn't expect others to take it as seriously. Well, I have been pleasantly surprised! I have eaten out at Brooklyn Bagel, Panera, Bareburger and a Greek restaurant out in Long Island, and ALL were over the top helpful when it came to providing me with dairy and soy free options. While I do miss the ability to order a pizza or grab sushi, this has made me a more creative cook.

Speaking of being a creative cook: Thanksgiving. Yup. The holidays are coming, and I will not be able to eat most of the food. Thankfully my mom is a great cook and will do what she can to accommodate me. However, I will be going to CT early to spend time with family, providing me time to make my own Thanksgiving-ish food. Stay tuned: we will see how pie, mashed potatoes and stuffing is when it's soy and dairy free! Gobble gobble.

How about you? Do you host Thanksgiving? Have you ever cooked for someone with a food allergy? Do you shy away or boldly make special requests at restaurants? TELL ME ABOUT IT!